Healthcare workers are regularly faced with needlestick injuries (NSI) and while it might not be a standout issue, the financial implications across the NHS are damning.

According to the NHS Resolution’s annual report and accounts (2016/ 2017), it received 1,833 incident claims for needlestick injuries between 2012 and 2017 (fiscal years).

Of these, the 1,213 successful claims cost the NHS £4,077,441, but a UK-based company, NeedleSmart is now offering a technological solution to reduce injuries and costs – which is reported at more than 100,000 in the UK.

The new needle disposal technology, which can be used in hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries, takes a used hypodermic needle and transforms it into a sterile, non-sharp needle – in seconds.

NeedleSmart chief executive Cliff Kirby said the technology also has data benefits.

“Utilising the in-product Smart Technology, we can record the number of needles processed, types of needles and frequency of needles enabling real-time data.”

“This data can then be used for supple chain activity at source or a later date.”

Of healthcare workers suffering from needlestick injuries across the UK:

  • 30% will contract Hepatitis B
  • 3% will contract Hepatitis C
  • 0.3% will contract HIV/AIDS
  • 80% of all needlestick injures are preventable

The patented technology heats hypodermic needles into a molten state, prior to compressing it into a ball, creating a sealed sphere of sterile metal that is no longer sharp.

It has the potential to reduce hypodermic needles to sharps bins by up to 70%; reduce post procedural NSI of up to 20%; and generate a reduction in sharp disposal costs in the order of 30%.

Designed with portability in mind NeedleSmart Professional can destroy up to 600 needles between charges, using a 12 Volt rechargeable supply.

“This allows for extensive use throughout hospitals and larger healthcare facilities while away from its charging cradle,” Kirby said.

The NHS Resolution report stated that if the NHS had not spent the more than £4 million, it could have funded 125 band 5 nurses for one year.

“The figure could be higher as 326 claims remain open. The harm and cost are largely avoidable,” the report stated.

“By failing to prevent needlestick injuries, trusts can be found to be in breach of regulations (health and safety law), which could result in notices of contravention…organisations could also face costly legal claims.”